Stem extracts of Commelina benghalensis (Linn.), although not extensively documented, are frequently
used in traditional medicine for the treatment of ailments such as skin malformations and outgrowths.
Accordingly, the study was aimed to investigate possible molecular mechanisms that are associated
with the potential anti-carcinogenic property of this agrofield weed. Jurkat T cells were exposed to
different concentrations (0-600 ug/ml) of the crude methanolic extract of C. benghalensis to evaluate
their growth inhibitory and apoptosis inducing effects. The extract elicited a dose- and time-dependent
inhibition of cell proliferation, followed by a concomitant decrease in cell viability. The observed
cytotoxicity was linked to the induction of apoptosis as determined by morphological and biochemical
features known to be associated with the advent of apoptosis. Real time quantitative RT-PCR and
Western blot analyses of Bax, Bcl-2 and p53 exhibited aberrant expression profiles of these genes
under various treatment conditions. Taken together, the data suggest that the crude methanolic extract
of C. benghalensis contains bioactive compounds that may be beneficial in the treatment of malignant
growths, and that this apparent antineoplastic activity is a consequence of dysregulated expression of
apoptosis-responsive genes. These observations could provide a credible scientific justification upon
which the ethnopharmacological utilisation of C. benghalensis is founded.